An expatriate lab technician at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) responsible for the transfusion of HIV positive blood to a pregnant Maldivian patient has been taken into police custody on Thursday night (February 27).
IGMH Deputy CEO Dr Mohamed Habeeb told MPs on the government oversight committee yesterday that the Indian national had admitted his culpability in the incident.
Local media has since revealed his identity and reported that the Criminal Court has extended pretrial detention to seven days.
Habeeb was summoned to the oversight committee along with Health Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela and senior officials at the ministry.
Briefing MPs on the incident, Habeeb explained that the blood test was done on February 2 and the transfusion took place the next day.
The technician at fault reported the blood as negative despite the machine showing that it was positive for HIV.
The error was discovered when the patient came in for a routine checkup on February 18, he continued, after which the blood test report was reviewed.
A high-level meeting with senior officials from the Health Ministry was held immediately after the discovery and a three-member committee was formed to look into the incident, he said.
The committee comprised of an experienced doctor, senior nurse, and retired lab technician, he added – none of whom were employed by the hospital.
The incident was revealed to the media hours after the committee shared its findings, he said.
The blood sample was taken from a donor found by the patient and not from the hospital’s blood bank, Habeeb stressed. The donor was not previously registered as an HIV patient.
While there were normally two technicians at the lab, Habeeb noted that the Indian national was alone on the day in question as it was a public holiday.
Habeeb revealed that the technician left for India on the day of the incident and returned to the Maldives about two days later.
The technician had been working at the hospital for seven years and had recently received an award for his performance, Habeeb said.
However, Permanent Secretary at the Health Ministry Geela Ali revealed that the technician had been fired from his previous job in 2006.